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Anonymous confessions of a lunatic Tennessee Vols football fan

My lunatic friend Joe is back and says we're only getting started.

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Y'all remember my lunatic friend Joe from last year? The reasonable guy plagued by unrealistic expectations because he can't come to terms with the fact that his kids have grown up before his eyes without experiencing much of anything but heartache as Vols fans? Yeah, that guy. His oldest daughter -- a mere nine years of age when Tennessee started circling the drain in 2005 -- is now a sophomore in college at a school that doesn't even have a football team. He still has hope that his middle (13) and youngest (4) girls will have multiple opportunities to experience several fan-making moments so that they can better understand their dear old dad. Because they probably think he's nuts.

Last season was a decent start, and several of Lunatic Joe's Unreasonable List of Demands were actually met.

Lunatic Joe's Demands Fulfilled

1. The Usual - Get to 6-6 and a bowl game. The Vols went 6-6 and not only got to a bowl game but dominated Iowa in said bowl game for a decisive victory. Joe was not only spared the humiliation of having to explain once again why Tulsa was still playing while Tennessee was home for the holidays, his kids were there with extended family in Little Rock for appointment TV that did not disappoint and that resulted in smiles and cheers and praise and hope and anticipation for the the next season.

2. Put an End to the Vanderbilt and Kentucky Nonsense. The 2014 Kentucky game was the blowout it always should be, and the Vandy game was, as has historically been the case, more difficult that it should have been but a satisfying win in the end. The further losses to either of these teams are in the rear view, the better. Logging another mile in that journey is a good thing.

3. Pass South Carolina. This almost didn't happen, but it did, and it happened with a fan-making moment. Joe's middle child was watching with Joe in the basement when the Gamecocks' Brandon Wilds ran 70 yards for a touchdown to give Carolina a 42-28 lead with only 4:52 to play. She was silent after the play, zoning out, thinking about teenagey things. She'd seen this before, and she knew how it ended and that silence was the best way to avoid hearing the tired speech about disappointment and hope and perseverance through Dad's gritted teeth. When she was shaken out of her daydreams by Joe's applause at Josh Dobbs making it a one score game and groan at missing the onside kick, she asked, "Do they have any chance at all?" Joe ran the numbers in his head and figured they could get the ball back if everything went right, so he said with a shrug, "It's possible," but she'd heard this before and therefore dismissed it. And then it happened, and a memory was made. And the Vols had two wins in a row against South Carolina, both of which had been witnessed in real time by Middle Daughter.

Lunatic Joe's Remaining Demands

Not all of Lunatic Joe's Unrealistic Demands from last year were met, though, of course, and he's pulled the tattered line-ruled piece of paper out of his dirty pocket for reference. Here are his remaining demands for 2015.

Break the Streak Against the Top 25

Joe is crossing this one off as we speak and telling the kids with a grin that 2015 is already off to a good start. And now he's drafting a primer on what the Top 25 is because his kids have not heard him mention it but once since his now-sophomore-in-college was in sixth grade. Sheesh, they have a lot to learn.

Break the Streak Against Florida

Florida has beaten the Vols ten times in a row. One time is too many. Joe wants to Stop the Madness. Joe wants to turn this back into a football game instead of a foot-shooting contest that we always win. Joe wants his kids to know that Florida beating Tennessee isn't as common as the leaves turning in the fall. Joe wants you to know that he wants to vomit from thinking that thought.

Break the Streak Against Georgia

The irony is that Joe's kids must think that the Vols are much closer to beating Georgia, a team that's been very good recently, than Florida, a team that is recovering from being head-coached by Will Muschamp. It's understandable because all of the recent games against the Bulldogs have been close, and Georgia's streak over Tennessee hasn't yet necessitated anti-emetics. But we need to turn the corner. Take the next step. Git R Done. It's for the kids. Any my lunatic friend.

Break the Streak Against Alabama

Beat 'Bama. We can do it.

The truth is that once more of these demands are met, my lunatic friend will likely use the occasion to create a new list of unreasonable demands. But Job One is to get the kids to experience the magic and to give them reasons to believe that their father hasn't been clinically insane this entire decade by sitting in the basement making himself miserable and sustaining himself on hope fumes. I'm not talking about me, you understand. It's for my lunatic friend.